May 13, 2015

German Trash-How to Recycle

So, in Germany you have to pay for your trash to be picked up.  Lots of landlords include the trash fee into your rent.  It could get pricey, depending on your location, due to recycling being a German law. On average I've been told families could pay around 10-30 euro a month for trash.

When we moved into our house, figuring out the trash schedule seemed daunting, but it's actually not that difficult once you have a little knowledge on the subject. 

Due to recycling being the law in Germany, there are some guidelines necessary for success. 
First, there are yellow bags.  We live and die by these yellow bags;)  What goes into the yellow bags?
Cans, plastic, polystyrene, aluminum, tinplate and "composite" materials like beverage cartons made of a mixture of materials. 
In my house we have a full sized trash can that holds a yellow trash bag.  My kids know what goes into the yellow recycling trash can.  But, before they got the hang of it I kept a list of items that go into the yellow bag taped to the side of the trash can for their reference. (soda cans, juice boxes, tin foil, plastic wrap, etc.)
Yellow bags can be picked up at city hall or you can leave a really nice note on your trash can when your 'food' trash is taken requesting more yellow trash bags from the garbage man.  Simply put a sign out on your trash can stating "Mehr Gelbes Sacks, Bitte".  This does not always mean that your garbage man will have them to give to you OR that he/she will feel like being courteous and leave the yellow bags for you.  This should be a back up plan if you are not able to get to the town hall/city hall in your area and pick some up.

Paper and cardboard: Recycle paper and cardboard in the large blue containers or in a designated residential bin for paper items, depending on one's location.
We have a large blue topped trashcan that is for our paper and cardboard.  We break down all of it so that we can have plenty of room for all of the paper recycling in the blue recycling trash can. 
On our trash can on the right you can see a small, white rectangle sticker on the side.  On this sticker is a bar code our trash man scans verifying we pay for our trash to actually be picked up by him/her. ( I didn't take a close up due to it having our address listed on it).

For example:  If you finish a box of cereal-take out the plastic bag that the cereal was in and put that empty plastic bag into the yellow trash bag.  Then take the cereal box, break it down, and put that into your blue recycling trash bin.

Trash:  What constitutes trash?  Due to ALL the recycling in Germany, what you are left with (if you recycle correctly) is mostly the "other stuff" and biological waste.  This includes kitchen scraps, peels, leftover food, coffee filters, tea bags, garden waste, etc.  Your trash should go into your trash can supplied by your landlord.  This trash can should have a bar code somewhere on it that the garbage collector scans (see above picture).  Each trash can has to be registered in order to let you throw out your trash (your landlord should handle this for you).  That is why you pay a trash fee-when you pay for your trash you are registering your trash can and when the garbage man takes your trash and scans it, there is electronic verification that you paid for it to be picked up.

Glass: Glass items, to include bottles and jars, need to be separated according to their color and recycled in appropriate containers in a resident's community. The three categories for separating glass are brown; white or clear; and green and all other colors. You will see every few blocks large silver metal bins, about 5 feet tall, that have small holes in the tops of them to deposit your glass jars.  The labeling on the bins is super easy to know which color glass item goes into which bin because the signs are brown, green, and white;)
See how the left sticker is brown, the middle is white and the far right one has a green sticker?

Bulk trash: Larger items, including furniture, mattresses, carpets, rugs or bicycles, may be placed outside on bulk trash pickup days. If a resident does not know the collection schedule, they can ask their landlord or neighbors when bulk trash is collected.  Bulk trash is usually scheduled 2 times a year. 

Each county or village area should have a trash schedule posted online.  When all else fails, just look to see when your neighbors put out which trash and follow suit.

Here is what the 2015 trash schedule looks like for the Eifel area.  Do not get overwhelmed.  Below the chart is a breakdown of how to read this thing.;)

Sorry for the poor picture quality-my computer was having issues, so I had to take a picture of my screen:/

First of all, find your village.  For our purposes, lets choose one:  Speicher.
Speicher is the last village listed on this chart.  You will see that there are very light greyed out dates, blue and yellow dates, and orange dates.
The light greyed out dates are your trash days:  i.e.  the 'other stuff' and biological waste.
The blue and yellow dates are your recycling days:  your yellow bags should be set out the night before and your blue paper/cardboard bins/trash cans set out as well. 
The orange dates are your bulk trash pick up days:  furniture, carpets, etc.
So, for Speicher it read like this (for 2015): 
           Trash days:  January 5, 19
                                February 2, 17
                                March 2, 16, 28
                                April 13, 27
          Recycling days (yellow bags and blue paper/cardboard bins): 
                               January 12, 13
                               February 9, 10
                               March 9, 10
                               April 7, 8
          Bulk trash days: 
                              January 27, 28
                              May 12, 13
                              September 29, 30

***Please note this is my personal experience and suggestions, but may not apply to everyone or every village***

Eifel Trash Schedule Online-

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